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[STUDY] How Hyperconnectivity Affects Young People

February 29th, 2012 02:45 admin View Comments

shutterstock_youngpeopleoftoday-150.jpgWould you mind putting down your smartphone for a moment to read this? Thanks, we really appreciate it.

A new study released today by Pew sheds light on the lurking, albeit very real notion that we all not-so-secretly fear: There are actual consequence to the hyperconnected lifestyle that many 21st century millennial Americans live! But calm down, it’s not all frowny-face emoticons and Sherry Turkle-esque Alone Together narratives.

Yes, there are some major downsides to relying on the Internet as our “external brain,” including the desire for instant gratification, and the increased chances of making”quick, shallow choices.” But researchers also say we networked young people are nimble, quick-acting multitaskers who will do good in the world.

Teens and young adults are hyper-immersed in technology. A total 95% of teens ages 12-17 are online, 76% use social networking sites and 77% have cell phones. Of the slightly older age group (18-29 year olds), 96% are Internet users, 84% use social networks and 97% have cell phones. More than half of those users have smartphones and 23% own tablets such as the iPad.

Pew talked to 1,021 technology “stakeholders and critics” through an entirely opt-in survey. In other words, the people who participated did so of their own volition. Of those surveyed, approximately 55% agreed that the future for hyperconnected individuals looks positive. Meanwhile, a total 42% thought otherwise saw negative outcomes. This outcome skews slightly more positive; Pew in fact admits that the outcome is actually more like 50-50. So, is the cup half-empty or half-full?

The Networked Future Looks Good, Mate! Fair Sailing Ahead!

Approximately half (or, arguably, 52%) believe that hyperconnectedness will have a positive impact, suggesting a stronger ability to multitask, cycle through personal- and work-related tasks and become more adept at finding answers to deep questions. These people – who are mostly millenials – will be able to tap into the Internet’s greater knowledge base, accessing more information and working together to do so via crowdsourcing.

Says acclaimed Microsoft Senior Researcher danah boyd, who studies the cybercultures of teens and young adults: “Brains are being rewired – any shift in stimuli results in a rewiring. The techniques and mechanisms to engage in rapid-fire attention shifting will be extremely useful for the creative class whose job it is to integrate ideas; they relish opportunities to have stimuli that allow them to see things differently.”

We have already started to see that happen. Facebook is a natural space for artists to exchange ideas and engage in fast discussion. The Internet pinboard social network, Pinterest, is a beautiful space for posting inspiring images. The creative class benefits from these visual, idea-oriented forums.

The Networked Future is a Dark, Deserted Island of Doom

Half of the people surveyed by Pew disagree with the above rosy statements. The believe that the brains of such millenials will not retain information. They think millenials will be focused on short social messages and content that will entertain. They will be incapable of deep engagement with people and knowledge. These Internet users will surf around, grabbing the first bit of information they find. They will take fiction as fact.

“Increasingly, teens and young adults rely on the first bit of information they find on a topic, assuming that they have found the ‘right’ answer, rather than using context and vetting/questioning the sources of information to gain a holistic view of a topic,” says one survey participant. Instant gratification plays into this negative consequence, along with an overall lack of patience.

Another non-millenial encounters the same problem. “I’m 33 years old and over the last two years have ramped up my time spent on the internet to 10-plus hours a day. The effects have been detrimental. My attention span for longer-form information consumption such as books, movies, long-form articles, and even vapid 30-minute TV shows has been diminished immensely. My interpersonal communications skills are suffering, and I find it difficult to have sustained complex thoughts. My creativity is zapped and I get very moody if I’m away from the Web for too long.”

But there will always be those few outliers who see a different kind of opportunity in the seemingly dark abyss. They will seize it, and run forward.

One Pew participant believes that millenials will start to truly see the value of slow and steady wins the race. The tortoise beats the hare: “Long-form cognition and offline contemplative time will start to be viewed as valuable and will be re-integrated into social and work life in interesting and surprising ways,” the person says.

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And who will do all that deep thinking, now that we are addled with Internet-induced ADD? The division of labor will shift accordingly.

“Perhaps the issue is, how will deep thinking get done – including by whom – rather than will everyone be able to do deep thinking,” says Marjory S. Blumenthal, associate provost at Georgetown University and former director of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies.

The Internet, Facebook and all these Web technologies are here to stay. Our challenge now is to figure out the best ways to interact with them. After all, says Tiffany Shlain, director of the film Connected and founder of the Webby Awards, “As Sophocles once said, ‘Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.’”

“The Cliché Young People of Today” and “Tortoise & Hare” images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Source: [STUDY] How Hyperconnectivity Affects Young People

Why We Speak Freely on Social Networks

February 20th, 2012 02:30 admin View Comments

shutterstock_mindscape_150.jpgWe message on Facebook but in-person I’m awkward and you’re shy. When our Twitter conversation went from @ messages to direct messages, you seemed more reserved and I felt more open to speak my mind. Let’s follow each other on Pinterest and share the pictures that are in our mind. I just want to be in your head. I just want to feel what you’re feeling. I want to be inside of you, truly. But in real life, I can barely look you in the eye. I know too much about what you know I know.

Social networking sites give us portals into another person’s (user’s) mind, so far as that person (user) makes public their thoughts, ideas, feelings and desires. At times, we are perhaps more honest online, and especially on social networks, than we are in real life. Recent studies suggest that we are exactly the same on Facebook as we are in real life – but that might not be true. We might actually be even more of who we are online than in real life.

Social networks are both a space of freedom and a place of imprisonment. We are free to say whatever we think and feel. That is the first question Facebook asks us when we go to our profiles.
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Yet in speaking our minds on social networks, we not only share information we also embody the medium itself. Or, as Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, “the medium is the message.” And we cannot detach what we say on Facebook from Facebook itself.

The Medium is the Message

There is a symbiotic relationship between message and medium, and that medium influences how the message is perceived. If a user posts that he or she just got married onto Facebook, they are essentially encouraging all of their friends to accept and react to that status update on Facebook. The medium embodies this message – you are married, on Facebook. The translation to offline conversation may not happen as smoothly. “Hey, just noticed that you were married, um, that’s what Facebook told me. Congrats!” This sentence could be followed by an awkward pause, then silence. That conversation might best continue on Facebook itself. We cannot divorce the medium from the message that’s being conveyed. Our entire idea of communication shifts.

“As society’s values, norms and ways of doing things change because of the technology, it is then we realize the social implications of the medium,” writes the anonymous author(s) of “The Medium is the Message”‘s Wikipedia page. “These range from cultural or religious issues and historical precedents, through interplay with existing conditions, to the secondary or tertiary effects in a cascade of interactions that we are not aware of.”

Don’t Look at Me, I Won’t Look at You

When we do not have to look each other in the eye, we are more honest with each other. Such is the case with social networking sites. But why? The Wall Street Journal’s Matt Ridley story takes a look at the ways that other species interact in order to deduce a bit more about human behavior.

“In monkeys and apes, face-to-face contact is essentially antagonistic. Staring is a threat,” writes Ridley. “A baboon that fails to avert its eyes when stared at by a social superior is, in effect, mounting a challenge. Appeasing a dominant animal is an essential skill for any chimpanzee wishing to avoid a costly fight.”

What happens when you put two monkeys in a cage, or two humans in an elevator? The pair, confined to small quarters, will do their absolute best to avoid eye contact and confrontation. Similarly, two human strangers trapped in an elevator or cab together might discuss something as banal as the weather. Even conversation about sports might bring up too many emotions. But the weather is one thing we can discuss with minimal emotional reaction.

You Are a Liar, a Bully and a Freak! You Are Honest, Kind & Generous.

In his article in the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior, Rider University’s John Suler coins the “disinhibition effect,” which suggests that people on social networking sites feel free to share very personal things about themselves – secret emotions, fears, wishes. Conversely, social networkers show “unusual acts of kindness and generosity,” which is known as “benign disinhibition.” Suler also defines “toxic disinhibition,” the idea of people online exploring sites of pornography and violence, places that they wouldn’t visit in the real world (strip clubs, bathhouses, scenes of crime and abuse) but feel free to do online. Suler points out that the overall effect of online disinhibition is caused by several factors which interact with each other, and result in something far more complex.

“When people have the opportunity to separate their actions from their real world and identity, they feel less vulnerable about opening up. Whatever they say or do can’t be directly linked to the rest of their lives,” Suler writes.

The stuff you do or say on social networks in some way feels dissociated from the rest of your life – so, in effect, it feels like it has no consequences. But in terms of its emotional effect, there are reprecussions. Behaviors are still behaviors, whether they happen online or off.

Is what we show about ourselves online more true than what we share with others in our every day lives? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just a pathway into our imaginations, our mindscapes. And if the user feels safe sharing those ideas, then the space in which this happens is not as important.

“In their imagination, where it’s safe, people feel free to say and do all sorts of things that they wouldn’t in reality. At that moment, reality is one’s imagination. Online text communication can become the psychological tapestry in which a person’s mind weaves these fantasy role plays, usually unconsciously and with considerable disinhibition. All of cyberspace is a stage and we are merely players,” Suler writes.

But still, it is important to be careful what you reveal in those spontaneous moments of cyber freedom. Be prepared to defend your thoughts and ideas, to be an open book in a public space. Be safe, be vulnerable, be aware of what you say.

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Online honesty cuts both ways,” writes Ridley. “Bloggers find that readers who comment on their posts are often harshly frank but that these same rude critics become polite if contacted directly. There’s a curious pattern here that goes against old concerns over the threat of online dissembling. In fact, the mechanized medium of the Internet causes not concealment but disinhibition, giving us both confessional behavior and ugly brusqueness. When the medium is impersonal, people are prepared to be personal.”

Thumbnail image via Shutterstock. Artwork by Peregrine Honig.

Source: Why We Speak Freely on Social Networks

UK Plans More Spying On Internet Users Under ‘Terrorism’ Pretext

February 18th, 2012 02:20 admin View Comments

Privacy

Wowsers writes “In vogue with other countries cracking down on freedom and democracy on the internet as discussed in Slashdot recently, the UK is joining in with plans to track all phone calls, text messages, email traffic and websites visited online, all to be stored in vast databases under new government anti-terror plans. As reported in The Telegraph, security services will have access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook, direct messages between subscribers on Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games. The scheme is a revised version of a plan drawn up by the ex-Labour government which would have created a central database of all the information. The idea was later dropped in favor of requiring communications providers to store the details at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Source: UK Plans More Spying On Internet Users Under ‘Terrorism’ Pretext

UK Plans More Spying On Internet Users Under ‘Terrorism’ Pretext

February 18th, 2012 02:20 admin View Comments

Privacy

Wowsers writes “In vogue with other countries cracking down on freedom and democracy on the internet as discussed in Slashdot recently, the UK is joining in with plans to track all phone calls, text messages, email traffic and websites visited online, all to be stored in vast databases under new government anti-terror plans. As reported in The Telegraph, security services will have access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook, direct messages between subscribers on Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games. The scheme is a revised version of a plan drawn up by the ex-Labour government which would have created a central database of all the information. The idea was later dropped in favor of requiring communications providers to store the details at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Source: UK Plans More Spying On Internet Users Under ‘Terrorism’ Pretext

UK Plans More Spying On Internet Users Under ‘Terrorism’ Pretext

February 18th, 2012 02:20 admin View Comments

Privacy

Wowsers writes “In vogue with other countries cracking down on freedom and democracy on the internet as discussed in Slashdot recently, the UK is joining in with plans to track all phone calls, text messages, email traffic and websites visited online, all to be stored in vast databases under new government anti-terror plans. As reported in The Telegraph, security services will have access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook, direct messages between subscribers on Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games. The scheme is a revised version of a plan drawn up by the ex-Labour government which would have created a central database of all the information. The idea was later dropped in favor of requiring communications providers to store the details at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Source: UK Plans More Spying On Internet Users Under ‘Terrorism’ Pretext

UK Plans More Spying On Internet Users Under ‘Terrorism’ Pretext

February 18th, 2012 02:20 admin View Comments

Privacy

Wowsers writes “In vogue with other countries cracking down on freedom and democracy on the internet as discussed in Slashdot recently, the UK is joining in with plans to track all phone calls, text messages, email traffic and websites visited online, all to be stored in vast databases under new government anti-terror plans. As reported in The Telegraph, security services will have access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook, direct messages between subscribers on Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games. The scheme is a revised version of a plan drawn up by the ex-Labour government which would have created a central database of all the information. The idea was later dropped in favor of requiring communications providers to store the details at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Source: UK Plans More Spying On Internet Users Under ‘Terrorism’ Pretext

[GRAPHIC] Most Don’t Feel Comfortable Sharing Credit Card Info On Social Networks

February 13th, 2012 02:00 admin View Comments

shutterstock_online_shopping.jpgMost of us still don’t like giving our credit card information on social networking sites, according to a poll of 2,630 adults by Harris Interactive for Digitas.

And that could mean trouble – at least for now – for Facebook and other social networks hoping to make good on predictions that social media commerce will reach $30 billion within five years. The poll, which included 2,247 people who identified themselves as social media users, found attitudes that mirrored those confronting retail brands when they opened online stores a decade or more ago.

Men between the ages of 18 and 54 who make $35,000 or more per year are the most likely to make purchases through a social network, but overall, 55% of poll respondents said they were still reluctant to turn over credit card info. The potential, however, is there: 75% of respondents said they were more likely to purchase a product or service if it was endorsed by a friend on social media.

The survey results, presented in an infographic below, also explain how brands can improve social media sales conversion rates.

teaser.jpg

Source: [GRAPHIC] Most Don’t Feel Comfortable Sharing Credit Card Info On Social Networks

[GRAPHIC] Most Don’t Feel Comfortable Sharing Credit Card Info On Social Networks

February 13th, 2012 02:00 admin View Comments

shutterstock_online_shopping.jpgMost of us still don’t like giving our credit card information on social networking sites, according to a poll of 2,630 adults by Harris Interactive for Digitas.

And that could mean trouble – at least for now – for Facebook and other social networks hoping to make good on predictions that social media commerce will reach $30 billion within five years. The poll, which included 2,247 people who identified themselves as social media users, found attitudes that mirrored those confronting retail brands when they opened online stores a decade or more ago.

Men between the ages of 18 and 54 who make $35,000 or more per year are the most likely to make purchases through a social network, but overall, 55% of poll respondents said they were still reluctant to turn over credit card info. The potential, however, is there: 75% of respondents said they were more likely to purchase a product or service if it was endorsed by a friend on social media.

The survey results, presented in an infographic below, also explain how brands can improve social media sales conversion rates.

teaser.jpg

Source: [GRAPHIC] Most Don’t Feel Comfortable Sharing Credit Card Info On Social Networks

[STUDY] 61% of Social Media Users Feel So Close To You

February 9th, 2012 02:30 admin View Comments

shutterstock_strange_smileyface.jpgSometimes little things like a sweet comment on Facebook or a Twitter friend calling your tweet a “favorite” can really make a social networker bee’s day.

A new study from Pew finds that for the most part, adults are kind to each other on social media sites. In fact, 85% of adults say that most of the people they come across on social media are rather kind; only 5% say that people are “mostly unkind,” which would imply rude or mean. An additional 5% say that it’s all situational. On the whole, adults have positive experiences on social networking sites. A total 68% of SNS users had an experience that “made them feel good about themselves,” 61% said something on social networks “made them feel closer to another person.” Of the generous and helpful variety, 39% of users said they saw acts of generosity and 36% said they see other user behaving in generous and helpful ways.

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Not everything is peaches and cream, though.

There are some social media users who don’t feel so happy-go-lucky. Not everyone experiences kind, helpful behavior on social networking sites. That would be about 18% of users; another 5% claim to never see any generosity or helpfulness at all.

Sometimes interactions on social networking sites have negative outcomes. Of the people surveyed by Pew, 26% of adults experienced negative outcomes. Of that percentage, 15% said bad experiences ended friendships, 12% resulted in a face-to-face argument or confrontation, 11% said those interactions caused family-related problems, 3% got into a physical fight with someone based on an interaction, and 3% got into trouble at work. About 13% of adult SNS users say that someone else acted rudely toward them in the past year.

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Unless you live in a world that resembles the movie Young Adult, you probably don’t think of yourself as an adolescent. On social networking sites, adults tend to be more positive and less negative than teenagers; 41% of SNS-using teens had at least one bad experiences versus 26% of SNS-using adults.

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Dear White Guys, Please Read This

Pew points out that non-white people, women, parents and millennials are more likely to see content that offends them. Of that group, 42% of black SNS users and 33% of Hispanic SNS users frequently saw language, images or humor that they found offensive compared to 22% of white SNS users. Taking a look at this in terms of age, 34% of millennials (ages 18-34) found some material offensive, compared with only 17% of Gen-X users (ages 35-46). The survey doesn’t even give the tiny percentage of Baby Boomers who felt offended by material on SNS sites. Additionally, 29% of women were offended versus 22% of men, and 29% of parents with small children found offensive material versus 24% of nonparents.

Who Did Pew Survey?

Pew surveyed 2,260 adults ages 18-and-up over the period of July 25-August 26, 2011. Of the people surveyed, 1,047 were SNS and Twitter users. The margin of error is plus-or-minus three percentage points. A total 64% of adults surveyed used social networking sites. 87% had a profile on Facebook, 14% on MySpace, 11% on Twitter, 10% on LinkedIn and 13% on other social networking sites.

Images courtesy Shutterstock.

Do your friends on social networks make you feel good about yourself? Share your experiences in the comments.

Source: [STUDY] 61% of Social Media Users Feel So Close To You

[STUDY] 59% of Customers Don’t Know About Their Banks’ Social Media Presence

February 8th, 2012 02:15 admin View Comments

shutterstock_piggy_bank.jpgIn ComScore’s report on The State of Online and Mobile Banking, it cites social networks as a space where banks are creating a presence, and improving their capabilities. But do any of the banks’ customers even know about this? Apparently not.

Even though financial institutes have increased social networking activity, ComScore says that only 18% of customers knew that their financial institutions had a presence on social networks. A total 59% had no idea, and 24% were unsure of what their financial institutions were doing on social media sites.

The data shows that customer visits to banks’ Facebook pages have increased by nearly 25%, whereas on Twitter and LinkedIn that number has enjoyed less much less growth.

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For institutions that are creating a presence on social media sites, take heed: customers are not interested in solving customer service issues on those sites. If Facebook did update its brand pages to include private messaging options, this might change. For now, however, customers who do follow their financial institutions on social networking sites are mostly interested in retail, credit card and online shopping offers.

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As social commerce continues to try and find its place on Facebook thanks to new social apps, and payment services like PayPal build a presence on Facebook, will banking be the next move? Or are social networking sites just a place for banks to build their brand? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Image via Shutterstock.

Source: [STUDY] 59% of Customers Don’t Know About Their Banks’ Social Media Presence

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